“Dear Lord, where do I begin?” Marie stretched and yawned. The consistent ringing of the phone had awakened her out of a deep, needful rest. “These telemarketers don’t give a flying fig about time or privacy.” She rolled over to look at the clock. “Gee, it’s only 9:30 in the morning, and here they are calling back to back. It’s always one call after the other as if I didn’t hear them the first time. If only I could give them a taste of their own annoyance—just a brief encounter with how much of a nuisance I can be, especially on those mornings when they really need to lay in because they’ve worked a ten—or twelve-hour shift the night before.” She chuckled as she imagined some with frustrated looks on their faces and laughed hard as she imagined others slamming pillows across their faces to cover their ears and drown out the very perturbing voice she’d use. What made her laugh even harder was the image of phones flying across the rooms of the very same callers who’d call her every morning.
“Yes Lord,” she answered recognizing the familiar voice of her God speaking to her from within.
“Are you thinking vindictively this morning?” He asked.
“Um, I was, um . . .” she said thinking quickly, “I was just practicing the golden rule in my thoughts God. You know—the rule that says do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”
She heard the Lord laugh, and she too started laughing. “I know God,” she said throwing the covers back to get out of bed, “I’m as wrong as two left shoes, but you’ve gotta admit that I used asked laughing. Again she heard the Lord laugh. It was a Wednesday morning and an off day from Carter’s Supercenter where Marie worked. She’d initially planned to just lax and laze all day enjoying the home she wished desperately to spend more quality time in. She would, of course, spend time with her God, maybe play one or two of her favorite games on the computer, and press to finish the book one of her good friends had written. Though she’d only had about a couple hours of sleep, she got out of bed to begin her day. She’d clocked out of work at five o’clock in the morning and rushed to get her belongings so she wouldn’t miss the few minutes that had become so important to her lately—those few minutes that led her to meeting the attractive man who’d walk her to her car. This morning was no different than any of the other mornings of the last four months, yet it was a time of morning that brought smiles and pleasure. As usual, she’d met him at the entrance doors of the supercenter, and they’d walked out together to her vehicle making small talk. He’d said his farewell and promised to call her later. Marie lived about a five-minute drive from the supercenter. She’d found herself smiling at the very thought of him as she drove those few minutes home. In her thinking, she became amazed at how vividly in her mind she could see his walk and hear the sound of his voice, remembering practically every word he’d spoken to her.
“This is getting serious for me Lord,” she said aloud to God.
“I’m really a little nervous because none of the discomforts which normally come when I’m attracted to someone have greeted me. Hmmm . . . . Wonder what it means?” she asked herself more so than God. She dismissed the thoughts of Edwin as she pulled into the driveway of her two-story home. As usual, she quickly looked around the neighborhood. She appreciated the fact that most of her neighbors kept porch lights on which aided her ability to see at that time of the morning and check for anything moving. Most of the time a few of the neighbors were either coming out to warm up cars or heading back inside from starting them. They’d often speak or wave to one another, but they’d always keep it moving. This morning was no different than other mornings. As she got out of her truck, Marie waved to her neighbor across the street.
Closing the door to her SUV, Marie smiled as a neighbor’s cat jumped and raced from one of the outdoor chairs on her porch. It must’ve been sleeping pretty soundly not to hear me drive up she thought as she climbed the steps to the porch. Sighing, she unlocked the door to her home. “Give this girl a few minutes, and she’ll be just as you were,” she said to the cat which she guessed was probably hiding and waiting to resume rest in its place of comfort. Walking through the door, Marie sniffed for the lingering ocean mist fragrance offered by the potpourri pots scattered about the house. Because she simmered her fragrances so regularly, she still could smell the scent even if nothing was burning now. Though she had a phobia about getting into the waters at beaches, she loved the smell of the ocean. At the beach she’d often just sit enjoying the aroma and listening to the waves beat against the shore as she’d either think, read, write, or do all three. Tossing one set of keys on the love seat as she walked by, she made her way into the kitchen where she hanged the second set on the brass key rack on the wall. She always took two sets of keys with one set always being locked to the belt loop of her uniform pants. “You never know what’ll happen,” she said to a co-worker one day who wanted to know why Marie carried two sets of keys. “Folks get locked out of their own cars and homes all of the time girl.” Shortly after, Marie noticed that the co-worker started carrying an extra set too. She must’ve been one of the ones whose been locked out before, she thought laughing to herself when she saw the two sets. Marie put her work bag down in the small library sharing her kitchen space. Being a lover of something as simple as a word and being all the more in love with God, she had bibles and inspirational books all over her home. Feeling very tired, she made herself a drink with plenty of ice and headed for her favorite room in the whole house, her bedroom which she shared with her God. She paused at the bottom of the steps blooking up at the climb ahead of her. “Gee there sure does seem to be a whole lot of these this morning,” she said, not really wanting to have to make the journey up. Sighing again, she pressed on her way. At the top of the stairs Marie had lined the walls with four eight-foot mirrors. Looking at her reflection after reaching the top and seeing the weariness on her face, she decided she’d just shower, pray, and lay down.
“I promise you Lord, I’ll give you all the time you want later today if you allow me to see the rest of the day,” she said to God aloud as she entered her bedroom. “Now, if you have something pressing on your heart Lord, you know I’ll nod—I mean I’ll hang right on in there with you.” Marie laughed. “You said it right the first time Marie,” God answered laughing. “You will definitely nod on me this morning. Get some rest dear one. I promise you that we’ll reflect together later today.” One of the things she loved most about God was His sense of humor which she thought on as she showered. She and God shared a fellowship unlike any other relationship she’d ever had. She remembered the first time she heard God laugh. It had really startled her. “I didn’t know you did that.” She said to God over twenty some years ago.
“You laugh, don’t you Marie?” the Lord asked. “Well yeah, I do but, I didn’t know you did.” “If I didn’t know laughter Marie, neither would you. Go back to Genesis. Read where I said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,’ and meditate on this,” the Lord had instructed. Doing that very thing all those years ago led Marie to experience a relationship and fellowship with God in a way she’d never thought possible. While she prepared for bed, she thought also on Christ’s invitation to her through one of her siblings. An older sister, who’d accepted God’s plan of salvation, personally shared with Marie the depths of God’s love for the human race. Through the kind, gentle, convicting, and convincing words her sister Ann spoke, Marie accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of her life. The invitation in Marie’s opinion was a timely one because she’d arrived at a place in her life those years ago where her actions spoke of no love for self and depression was an ever-present friend who often wanted her to contemplate ending life. Retrospectively, she could now clearly see the attempt of the enemy to do away with the plans of God for her life. Marie’s bed called to her tired body. “You’ve brought me from a long way Lord,” she said as she briefly thought about how life used to be before her acceptance of Christ. “Thank you so much for thinking of me. ”Marie knelt down beside her bed to pray. She couldn’t help but to smile as she remembered the many times she’d done the very same thing as a child. “I thank you Lord for Momma teaching us to pray and to acknowledge you always before we closed our eyes. I sure wish I knew then the depths of you that I’ve come to know now. I guess the most important thing is the now because I sure can’t change a thing in the back then. ”Feeling the presence of her God, she proceeded to pray and thank God for her day and for her loved ones. She thanked Him for His ways and for being who and what He is. She
“Well Lord, now that I’m up and have been chastened before I could even get out of bed, what would you like to do today?” she asked stretching and yawning some more as she made her way into the bathroom. “I gave my word earlier about giving you all the time you wanted. I dare not be chastened a second time, especially about not keeping my word.” She rolled her eyes playfully looking to the bathroom ceiling. She heard the familiar chuckle of God as she put toothpaste on her toothbrush. Again she remembered the earlier thoughts that took her back to her home town in Ahoskie, North Carolina, where she’d first heard the laughter of God. She began reminiscing over bits and pieces of her life as she ran water in the sink to wash her face.
She’d married at the young age of fifteen. As far back as she could remember she’d wanted nothing more than to be married to a husband she could be wild about and to have children to love and nurture. Marriage wasn’t a union that was taught to be a mandatory thing in life, but for Marie, it was a desire that burned deep within. She’d gotten what she desired as far as having a husband, and she’d also given birth to two children—however, marriage was by far a whole lot different than she’d expected. “I guess what I forgot to desire,
Lord, was that my husband and me knew you and not just your name.” Marie patted her face dry and headed toward her bedroom. Although Marie had a study and library upstairs, most of the time she and God spent together was in her bedroom. Occasionally they’d fellowship in the kitchen library or in the upstairs study. Today was one of those occasions, and Marie decided she’d sit a spell in His presence in the upstairs study. She made her way to one of the wicker chairs and sat down. She always kept a light burning in the room on the glass top table where she kept a bible. Still entertaining thoughts of the past, she asked herself what she could have been thinking marrying so young. Of course with the wisdom of forty nine years, she readily acknowledged that she hadn’t been thinking at all. She’d simply followed her heart which was too young to know about life or even love for that matter. Even though the first marriage lasted for only two years, neither the headaches nor the heartaches killed the desire within for marriage. There was always the longing. As a matter of fact, she remarried not once but twice more—again the marriages dissolved. Having a clear heart and mind concerning their dissolution, she still now and again thought on the desire that burned deep within. Neither Dwight, nor Curtis, nor Leonard could take that away from her. She’d given birth to her first child, a son, now thirty two years old, at the age of sixteen. Her second child came at the age of twenty two—a daughter, now twenty seven. Unfortunately, like many of today’s parents, she found herself having to raise her children alone. Single parenting wasn’t anything she’d wish upon anyone. Now with the children grown and gone, she thanked the Lord often for His help in raising them. Single parenting has never been considered by Marie to be a good idea; however, she has considered it to be one of her greatest teaching experiences. Many biblical truths were given greater insight through that experience. She’d really learned how important it is to be obedient to God.
Through the many experiences with her children, she saw the many ways disobedience and wrong attitudes caused her to forfeit some wonderful things from God.
Taking the insights she’d learned from both God and her life experiences, she would share passionately with as many young people who’d give an ear to hear. She never failed to declare the importance of serving God and walking obediently to Him and His Word.
Marie knew first hand that God’s wisdom and knowledge were greater than any earthly education that could be received. Never before had she sat in the presence of a teacher as powerful as her God. The insights He gives through His Spirit are just awesome, she thought.
She picked up her bible from the table next to her and turned to the book of Proverbs and began to read aloud:
These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, and to help them understand wise sayings. Through these proverbs, people will receive instruction in discipline, good conduct, and doing what is right, just and fair. These proverbs will make the simpleminded clever. They will give knowledge and purpose to young people. Let those who are wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. And let those who understand receive guidance by exploring the depth of meaning in these proverbs, parables, wise sayings, and riddles. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:1-7, NLT)
Laying down her bible, she meditated for a few minutes on what she’d just read. Of course this wasn’t the first time she’d read those words, or the tenth time, nor would it be the last time. Each reading brought forth a new understanding of the wisdom God gave to Solomon.
“You know Lord—I’ve been a fool much in my life having despised knowledge and rejected discipline.”
“Yes, Marie, you have and not only you but all men born in Adam. Rejection and rebellion against wisdom and discipline are results of sin. Every individual on the face of the earth experiences this rejection and rebellion in one form or another. Every individual has been a fool in his or her life and many, truthfully speaking, are still being fools. However, the individual who receives me through the Savior Jesus, he will profit greatly from the benefits that comes with being united with me.”
Marie smiled. She knew that the Lord would have more to say on the subject if not now, then at a later time. She looked forward to her times in His presence, and not just being in His presence alone, but also she relished the thought of being able to record her sessions with Him in her journal. To Marie, one of the more amazing things about journaling with God was the fact that she could almost remember word for word the things He’d spoken once she closed the book. Many times in her sharing with others some of the particulars of her session, she would revert back to the journal not wanting to miss or misquote a single word. There were even times where she’d pull excerpts from the journal to share with a listening audience while on a speaking engagement. She really loved her times with the Lord and took great precautions to secure these times.
As always, Marie never rushed to leave the presence of God after He’d spoken. She couldn’t bear the thought of moving on with her day until she had recorded His thoughts and had a few minutes to collect hers. Running off to do other things that could wait wasn’t worth the chance of missing other things the Lord might want to say. She waited patiently, expelling thoughts of the other things she’d planned for the day. She didn’t have to wait long.
“Marie,” He began, “childhood is a very important and impressionable time in life. All stages of life are important—please understand this. From infancy to the age of five, children are experiencing limited outside influence. These are the years when children, like sponges, absorb.
They will believe anything and receive anything. If you tell them the sky is orange and never change the lie, they’ll whole-heartedly accept this. The first stages in the life of a child are the times where parents should begin to teach and train the child. He or she should be taught the reality and existence of me. My laws should be taught. I am the one who made the law of ‘Thou shall not steal.’ A child needs to know that this is my law, and as the parent, you are simply enforcing it. I said, ‘Thou shall not steal, kill, and lie.’ I’m the one who said, ‘Obey your father and mother.’ Again these are my laws, and a child needs to know that these laws came from me. By doing so, it sharpens the child’s awareness of me. A child’s understanding of me is as simple as his understanding of no, stop, go, and bye-bye. You’ve heard from a few of how they’d become Christians at the ages of two and three years old. Some have shared how they’d become Christians at the ages of six and eight. Instilling the knowledge of me in a child means that you plant and water, and I cause the increase. The measures of understanding or comprehension of children increases daily. Making children aware of me brings the teachings of my laws and statutes which all of life should be governed by. With this training and application, men and women, boys and girls, young and old can enjoy happier days and a more prosperous life with prosperity meaning more than monetary and material riches. Without the knowledge of me in the lives of people, especially during their childhood, many mishaps, problems, mistakes, and heartaches happen once they are older and began to experience life. Often times, who I am and what I am is mistaken, misjudged, and misunderstood. Instead of seeing me as the loving Father and Savior that I am and can be if allowed, I am seen as cruel, hard, uncaring, and unjust. The list goes on and on.”
“Lord, you know that I’ve sat in the seats with those who’ve mistaken, misjudged, and misunderstood you. I felt this way towards you because I thought I knew you. Momma kept you ever present before my siblings and me growing up.
Many failures came in my life because I didn’t abide or stay connected. I wasn’t bearing righteous fruit because I didn’t abide in the vine. Thank you so much for the mercy granted and the grace that sustained during my times of rebellion and ignorance. I know that you’re not unjust, cruel, hard, and uncaring. It isn’t you who are all of these things. The truth be spoken Lord, it is us and the master of sin whom we chose and continue to choose to follow.”
“This is indeed so Marie,” the Lord began. “One of the wonderful things about your upbringing is it proves the truths of the words written by King Solomon in Proverbs 22:8 which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
“You see, your mother planted seeds that I could cause to bring forth and cause to produce later in your life. Thank you, Marie, for yielding to the hands of this farmer.”
“Oh Lord, you say some of the sweetest things; and to say thanks to someone as wretched as me—wow!”
Marie heard the Lord laugh and say, “I do say sweet things, don’t I?”
Hearing this, she joined God in laughter. Knowing the session had ended, she closed her journal and meditated on the things He’d shared. And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. (Luke 18:15-17)